NCLC returns ancient cultural site to Clatsop-Nehalem Confederated Tribes

May 05, 2020

On May 5, 2020, North Coast Land Conservancy transferred ownership of historical tribal lands at Neawanna Point Habitat Reserve—18.6 acres of saltmarsh and Sitka spruce forest on the Necanicum Estuary at the north end of Seaside—to the Clatsop-Nehalem Confederated Tribes. Known to the Clatsop people as Ne-ah-coxie, or “place of little pines,” the property is the first the tribes have owned since losing their lands due to non-native settlement more than 200 years ago.

(Photo: Master carver Guy Capoeman skippering “Dragonfly,” the Clatsop-Nehalem Confederated Tribes’ cedar dugout canoe, past the Ne-ah-coxie village site in the Necanicum estuary, along with paddlers and tribal members Charlottte Basch, Lorraine Basch, and Capoeman’s daughter Ilia Capoeman. Photo courtesy Clatsop-Nehalem Confederated Tribes.)

The village once located on the property had for millennia been home to many Clatsop and Nehalem people until diseases carried by early explorers and fur trappers decimated the native population on the North Coast and arriving white settlers began staking claim to tribal lands in the 19th century.

Federal recognition of the Clatsop and Nehalem tribes was terminated by Congress in 1954. The tribe is now organized as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. NCLC has been in conversation with tribal members for about three years, exploring options for how the Conservancy might help them acquire property in their traditional homelands.

“This was never really North Coast Land Conservancy’s land,” said Executive Director Katie Voelke of the site at the mouth of Neacoxie Creek. “We are glad to have been the caretakers and to now be facilitating the return of this land to its people. It’s an honor to participate in this moment of rebirth and of healing.”

NCLC acquired 20 acres at Neawanna Point in 1998 after a proposed condominium development had plunged the property into controversy. The Conservancy had spent many years exploring options that would allow for key parts of this sensitive ecosystem to be preserved. NCLC later transferred ownership of 1.4 acres fronting US Highway 101 to the City of Seaside to provide a public wayside at this northern gateway to the community. This parcel remains in city ownership.

Photo: Roberta Basch (left), Dick Basch, and Diane Collier at Ne-ah-coxie on May 5, after closing on the property transfer.

“We look forward to walking in the footsteps of our ancestors as we cherish and care for the land,” said A. Diane Collier, tribal chairwoman and descendant of Clatsop Chief Tostum, signer of the 1851 Tansy Point Treaty that was never ratified by the US Senate.

The site has special significance to the Clatsop people, as detailed by Dick and Roberta Basch in “The Ceremony at Ne-ah-coxie,” an essay that appears in the 2007 anthology Lewis and Clark through Indian Eyes. Members of the tribes have held ceremonies and continue to gather at the site as they have historically. Tribal Council Vice Chairman Dick Basch is descended from Celiast, a daughter of Coboway, chief of the Clatsop people at the time of the Lewis and Clark Expedition’s winter-long stay at the mouth of the Columbia River in 1805–06.

Restrictions on the deed prohibit most types of development on the property, though the tribes plan to build a traditional longhouse for their own ceremonial use and to share elements of their culture with the public. NCLC will continue to partner with the tribes in the on-going stewardship of the land.

Photo: The Ne-ah-coxie village site is at the mouth of Neacoxie Creek, on the Necanicum Estuary in north Seaside.

Comments

  1. Pat Johns says:

    Yeah NCLC and the tribal people. Well done!

  2. Nancy Holmes says:

    A very proud moment for all. Congratulations!

  3. Tess Chedsey says:

    That’s wonderful! Good for you guys!

    Tess

  4. Margaret Hammitt-McDonald says:

    Right on! This is beautiful news.

  5. Nancy Kroll says:

    Well done NCLC for caring for the land and for returning it to its rightful owners. I am so proud of NCLC and their very ethical dealings.

  6. Jayne Cronlund says:

    Congratulations on this momentous occasion.

    This is a huge step!

    Jayne

  7. Louise Zeringue says:

    Very good news

  8. By far the happiest moment of 2020 to date. My sincerest congratulations to all parties who participated in this transfer to Clatsop-Nehalem Tribe. This is as big moment for land trusts as it is Diane Collier, Roberts and Dick Basch and the members they represent. In conversation with the late Joe Scovel, a key player in the Clatsop-Nehalem comeback, about 15 years ago he closed our discussion with the comment. “There was a time when we lived an controlled most of this North coastline….now we have not even man acre.” I think you all have made the big man smile. Good job!

  9. Steve Coffman says:

    Thank You for the restoration of a small part of our heritage. It means a lot to our Tribe!

  10. Pam Bierly says:

    My heart is happy. Doing the right thing is alive today. Congratulations to my friends involved in this transfer.

  11. Debbie Moberly says:

    This is wonderful news! Thank you NCLC for your leadership and all that you do to protect land and serve our communities. I am heartened by this very significant action.

    May the members of the Clatsop-Nehalem Tribes find peace, joy and hope in the return of this piece of your land.

  12. Melissa Cadwallader says:

    Clatsop-Nehalem Confederated Tribes & NCLC. Congratulations on your persistent & collaborative efforts to restore this land to its rightful owners.

    My soul sings.
    Melissa Cadwallader

  13. Teter Kapan says:

    What a role model this action is serving for all of us and our children watching. Thank you!

  14. Lucy Brook says:

    what refreshing news in a time of top-down doom and gloom, when fear-mongering and hypocrisy abound. what you have done is Right Action. kudos to the members of the NCLC for making this decision.

  15. Pat Wollner says:

    As it should be. Well done NCLC.

  16. Jeffry Gottfried says:

    I am so proud of the North Coast Land Conservancy for taking this important step toward providing justice to the Clatsop-Nehalem Tribles. In so doing you are setting an example that hopefully others U.S. Government) can follow.

    Thoughtful and ethical actions like this are what keeps me motivated to support North Coast Land Conservancy!!

    Congratulations to all!

  17. jill stokeld says:

    thank you for this inspirational action. may the tribes thrive in their new acquisition.

  18. Cheryl Conway says:

    I am so proud to be a supporter of NCLC. This is a small but crucial step along the path of reconciliation.

  19. Jamie Taylor says:

    Wonderful news!

  20. Mary Blake says:

    Great work all around! Congratulations, Smiles Mary Blake

  21. Susan Holloway says:

    What a wonderful story to read. The NCLC makes me proud to be a member. You have my continued support.

  22. Randall Frank says:

    Great move, proud moment. Thank you NCLC for facilitating this transfer. Would love to see the Clatsop people build a ceremonial longhouse and help preserve local history. Bravo

  23. Margaret Murdock says:

    This is awesome!!!

  24. Larry Joe McClure says:

    Proud of our friends in Clatsop-Nehalem Tribe whose ancestors Lewis & Clark also appreciated for teaching them how to survive during those long, cold and wet weeks. Looking forward to seeing a longhouse at that scenic place someday!

  25. Jean Sielen says:

    Oh how wonderful for the Elk to have comfort and joy in knowing their dear friends the Clatsop-Nehalem Tribe own and tend this place. Hearts sing.

  26. Anon says:

    I don’t think giving a land with restrictions is respectful repatriation. While the deed restrictions meet NCLT goals, it does not allow for sovereignty. A people without sovereignty are slaves. Give me freedom or give me death is the American version. Giving the land to the local tribe was good and right. But deed restrictions in this context are patronizing and a poison pill.

  27. Robin Rodgers says:

    Thank you so much NCLC! Divine Right Action.

  28. Katie Voelke says:

    Dear Anon from May 6th,

    When the land was given to NCLC, the land came with deed restrictions. They were not created as a part of the tribal land transfer. Deed restrictions can not be removed. This is why, when the land was transferred yesterday, it was transferred with those original deed restrictions. I hope that helps to clarify.

    Thank you,
    Katie Voelke

  29. Jeanne Henderson says:

    As I read this story and the comments that follow it warms my heart to know that you all put your heart and soul into making this happen. This is one of those moments that we can all celebrate and feel honored to be a part of. Thanks to NCLC staff, volunteers, and supporters for making this happen. This truly is a beautiful thing. ❤️

  30. Sandy Ward says:

    Maka`i (excellent work). This is a pono (righteous) action and one that we hope to mirror in our work to restore Pearl Harbor on O`ahu. As someone who owns a family home in Seaside, I am now considering estate giving to the North Coast Land Conservancy as I would be honored to support your mission and the way you honor First Nation peoples.

  31. Jim Border says:

    Truly a righteous action. Well done NCLC!
    I’m proud to be affiliated in my small way.

  32. Cilla Border says:

    Aho!

  33. John Good Tree says:

    Historic

  34. William Lopez says:

    Makes me happy to see a little justice

  35. Fran Recht says:

    Honorable! Thanks for everyone’ s incredible work.